Cultivate Relationships in the Green Industry

By Lacy Ravencraft, TOCA Board President

Greetings TOCA friends!

The arrival of fall signifies a period of change. Living in Arizona, I lament the experience of seasonal color transformation from green to hues of red, orange and gold in the landscape—one thing I have never quite adjusted to living in the desert.

But the lack of visual cues highlighting our fall transition doesn’t negate the period of reflection and preparation we enter this time of year, anticipating the series of holidays.

This year feels different. Change has shifted into high gear, gurgling and sputtering at a surprising pace. It has become a great topic of conversation on many fronts and a force driving decisions and action in so many of the faces, families and firms surrounding us. It’s everywhere.

Our industry is experiencing change. I see a greater focus on the business side of the landscape biz. The impact of the economy, politics, employee recruitment and retention, insurance, taxes, technology—all topics prevalent in everyday conversations with contractors, manufacturers, distributors, associations and others.

TOCA is experiencing change. The development of a strategic plan is underway, preparation for the spring annual meeting is ramping up and we’re observing evolution in our own ranks, with tenured members finding new career paths, others being welcomed back into the fold and new faces becoming fast TOCA friends. Things are happening.

Within our industry and our association, one question seems to resonate across the board: how do we keep a fresh crop of quality prospects interested in green industry careers?

We put more effort into people.

An influx of engaged individuals, both newly minted and well-seasoned, creates a gorgeous blend of new ideas and historical perspective. When well nurtured and mindfully folded into the batter, the outcome is positive growth for the future.

In our lives, businesses and in TOCA, we can be positive and powerful agents of change. But for the greatest impact, alignment is key. The best stories and the greatest achievements seem to involve a mix of past, present and future.

So let’s change it up this fall.

Let’s collectively commit to “the work” of cultivating relationships. Open a dialogue with someone tenured, fresh faced or part of the up-and-coming generation. Ask them about their path. Ask them how they got here. Why they’ve stayed. Where they’d like to go. Ask them about the change they want to drive and achieve once they get there. Ask them what is needed to make it happen.

Look for clues and find a common ground. Think about what knowledge, resources or connections you have to help each other make headway. This is where true understanding begins and alignment is born.

An aligned relationship fosters engagement. Engaged people enjoy partnering with other engaged people.

The more connections we make outside of TOCA, the more our personal network (and prospective TOCA membership) grows. The more we reach out within our association, the more we develop solid, enlightened and mutually beneficial relationships. Therein lies the true value of TOCA.

So let’s put this into practice and make a connection today. Our next event is, of course, the GIE+EXPO TOCA breakfast on Friday, Oct. 19, in Louisville. Make a connection, ask someone to attend who hasn’t been to one – either as a TOCA member or maybe someone new to the organization. Just have them contact Den or Kristy at toca@gandgcomm.com. Or, really try something different and actually call them at: 952/758-6340. Might be a great way to connect one-on-one.